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COVID-19: Trudeau says fourth doses will be available – CTV News

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As infections fuelled by the Omicron variant threaten to overwhelm Canada’s health system, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising the provinces will have enough COVID-19 vaccines to provide everyone eligible booster shots and fourth doses if they become necessary.

Trudeau made the pledge in a statement issued late Monday after he spoke with provincial and territorial leaders, saying Ottawa will do all it can to help them cope with the fifth wave of the pandemic.

“(The premiers) expressed concern over the strain on health-care systems, businesses, workers and families across the country,” the statement said. “They raised the need to strengthen health-care systems, noting the particular challenges with health human resources capacity.”

The federal government has said provinces and territories will receive a combined 140 million rapid tests this month, although the statement did not provide details on when the deliveries will be scheduled.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 continued to surge throughout Canada on Tuesday.

Quebec reported an all-time high of 2,742 hospitalizations, 255 of whom were in intensive care, while Ontario reported 3,220 hospitalizations, with 477 patients in the ICU and 250 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

On Monday, Quebec’s director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, tendered his resignation, citing an erosion in public confidence in health-protection measures.

In recent weeks, the province has reinstated several stringent health measures including a curfew for the second year in a row. As well, the province has reported 12,028 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic — a per-capita death rate that is almost double that of Ontario.

Meanwhile, the provinces recorded a combined total of 20,279 new COVID cases on Monday, although the actual number is likely much higher due to a lack of access to testing.

In Alberta, the chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw, said the active case count released Monday by the provincial government — 57,000 — is probably 10 times lower than the actual number.

“It’s my belief that we need to prepare for a significant impact (to the health system) at this point given the cases we’ve seen,” Hinshaw said, adding that only high-risk cases are now eligible for PCR tests, including continuing care residents and front-line health-care workers.

The rapid spread of Omicron across the country has prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advise Americans to avoid travelling to Canada.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford confirmed students will return to school classrooms on Jan. 17. The schools were shut last week as the government enacted other public health measures amid growing strain on the province’s health system and pandemic-related staff shortages across essential workforces.

The government said promised shipments of N95 masks were sent to all school boards and school authorities as of Monday, while some shipments to child-care centres were still to go out this week. As well, the province is accelerating boosters for education workers and installing more HEPA air filters.

Schools reopened across British Columbia and Alberta on Monday with slightly higher absence rates among students and teachers in some districts after a prolonged Christmas break.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2022.

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Change your Perspective (Plastic use)

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Ditch the Disposables (Plastic use).
Since 1950, the world has produced 9.2 tonnes of plastic, of which only 10% has been recycled. Did you know? that a single-use bag is used for only 12 minutes? Here are some small actions we can do that could add up to huge results.
There are many ways to reduce the use of disposable items:
Bring your own reusable mugs( many coffee shops offer discounts when you bring in your own mug).
Bring your own bags shopping.
Refuse single-use plastics like straws and utensils.
Use reusable alternatives like beeswax wraps and containers for food storage.

Swap, Share, and Repair

In today’s society products are short-lived and disposable. Sharing and repairing are some of the best ways to reduce household waste and money.
There are many actions we can take to extend a product’s lifespan.
Shop at thrift stores.
Borrow or rent instead of buying new, especially for a tool or appliance that you can only use occasionally.
Use the library system to borrow or download your next read.
Sell or give away items you no longer use.
Learn how to make basic repairs. Local repair groups are a great resource.
Get to know your local repair shops. Always go local.

Food-Just Eat In.

Did you know that 1/4 of the food the average household buys is thrown out, and half of that food is edible? The average Canadian household spends $1,766.00 on food that is wasted over a year and that costs the Canadian economy$49 billion annually.
What to do?
Make a meal plan.
Make a grocery list and stick to it.
Practice first in, first out positioning new products behind older ones.
Get creative with leftovers.
Understand best before dates and store food properly.
Participate in The Circular Economy.
A circular economy means moving towards a system of production and consumption that involves reusing, sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling materials and products as long as possible.
Above all else, put pressure upon corporations that make your favorite products and products that you consume daily. You must demand better, longer-lasting, and longer-lasting products. Better ways to package items, and always buy locally, as it guarantees freshness and accountability. If you are not satisfied with a product, it is easier to communicate with a local firm other than one a world away.
Buying Locally is a democratic process we can all enjoy.
Saving our world, increasing local employment, and saving money all lie within our personal preview.
I know the holidays are upon us, but there is a point when we will need to stand firm against the wasteful economic system we live within. Waste not – Want not. Buy what you need, and not what corporate Canada tells you to buy.
We are the sum total of the choices we have made. it was true in Eleanor’s time and also in ours. We get the society we have made. Do you want your children to have a bright future? Make changes today.
Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca
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Coronavirus: Canada Post employees punished for N95 masks – CTV News

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Canada Post workers risk being sent home from work if they wear masks other than ones issued by the corporation, even if their masks are an upgrade in safety.

Employees who buy their own N95 masks and bring them to work are being told to switch to company issued cloth masks or risk being sent home.

“The mask requirements, like our vaccine mandate, are mandatory and necessary under direction from the (Employment and Social Development Canada [ESDC]),” a spokesperson for Canada Post said in an emailed statement. “Therefore anyone at work must comply.”

“If they don’t have the masks we’ve provided, we have additional masks and disposable medical masks on hand. If an employee still does not wish to comply, they are asked to leave the workplace.”

Canada Post said Public Health Agency of Canada supports the use of cloth masks and that the company following directives from the ESDC that require employees to wear company supplied masks to ensure their quality.

“The company fully supports these guidelines and therefore requires all employees to wear a Canada Post-supplied face covering, which is either a reusable cloth face covering or a disposable medical mask,” Canada Post said.

“Canada Post continues to monitor best practices and recommendations with respect to face coverings, and will update our requirements accordingly.”

In an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca, Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) National President Jan Simpson said the union is “concerned” that Canada Post is refusing to allow its members to wear N95 masks.

“Research on the new Omicron variant has established it is more transmissible through shared air than earlier variants,” he said in the statement.

“The union has asked Canada Post to provide N95 masks or suitable alternatives to all postal workers, and at the very least, allow those who’ve purchased their own N95 or KN95 masks to wear them. As COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly, Canada Post Corporation should be doing everything in its power to protect postal workers, who continue to help people stay home and stay safe.”

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From howitzers to heli-bombs: Canadian province fights rising avalanche risk

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British Columbia is rolling out the big guns – literally – to control avalanches that are forcing closures on some major roads for the first time in decades as the Western Canadian province grapples with a snowier-than-usual winter.

B.C. was rocked in 2021 by extreme weather events, including a record-breaking heatwave, wildfires and unprecedented rains that washed out highways and cut off Vancouver, its main city and home to Canada’s busiest port, from the rest of the country.

The province, Canada’s third-largest by population, uses bombs thrown from helicopters, remote-triggered explosives, and a howitzer gun manned by Canada’s military to keep roads safe. But frequent closures for avalanche control are disrupting critical routes to Vancouver.

At the start of this month, B.C.’s alpine snowpack was 15% higher than average, according to the Weather Network channel.

Extreme winter weather, including November’s torrential precipitation, a deep freeze in late December and an early January thaw, has created weak layers in the snowpack, making steep mountain slopes more prone to avalanches that can release without warning onto valleys below.

“It’s been such a volatile fall and winter season so far, we have had rare ‘extreme’ avalanche warnings go out for parts of (B.C.’s) south coast in December and the risk is still considerable in the interior,” said Tyler Hamilton, a Weather Network meteorologist.

Avalanche control missions involve closing sections of highways while teams use explosives to pre-emptively trigger smaller slides, preventing the snowpack from becoming too deep and unstable.

This winter a section of Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, 150 km (93 miles) northeast of Vancouver, needed avalanche control for the first time in 25 years, B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said.

Along Highway 99 north of Vancouver, avalanche control and risk-reduction activities are three times the seasonal average, with some slide paths producing avalanches big enough to hit the highway for the first time in more than a decade.

Avalanche control in Allison Pass further south on Highway 3, another key route connecting Vancouver to the rest of Canada, has also been above average, the ministry said.

‘BALANCING ACT’

All three highways were damaged by the November floods, and a busy avalanche control season is putting further strain on provincial resources. The Coquihalla Highway near Hope only reopened to regular traffic on Wednesday, and provincial authorities said record snow and avalanche risk had delayed repairs to Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon.

Further east in the province, avalanche teams in Rogers Pass, a rugged 40-km section of Highway 1 running beneath 135 slide paths in Glacier National Park, are dealing with nearly 30% more snowfall than usual and control missions are also above average.

Highway 1 is Canada’s main east-west artery and approximately 3,000 vehicles traverse Rogers Pass every day in winter. A major Canadian Pacific rail line runs parallel to the highway.

Avalanche control missions involve soldiers from the 1st Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, which is stationed in Rogers Pass in winter. They use a howitzer to fire shells packed with 4 kg (8.8 lbs) of explosives in the direction of loaded avalanche paths at 17 different locations along the highway.

“Our goal is to bring down as much snow as we can and bring the hazard down to a point where it’s safe to open the highway,” said Jim Phillips, acting avalanche operations coordinator for Parks Canada, which runs avalanche control in the national parks.

The Rogers Pass program has been running since the highway opened in 1961. Before that, CP trains crossing the Selkirk Mountains in winter ran a higher risk of deadly snow slides, including one that killed 62 railway workers in 1910.

So far this winter the team has fired 333 howitzer rounds, produced 197 controlled avalanches and closed the highway for 43 hours over seven separate days.

Phillips said his team also uses heli-bombing and remote-trigger systems to set off detonations, and spends C$600,000 ($480,346) a year on explosives alone.

“It’s a balancing act. You want to keep traffic moving and minimize closures, but also minimize risk to people using the transportation corridor,” he added.

And winter weather in Canada is far from over.

Avalanche control is typically needed until late April or early May, depending on the snowpack, and the Weather Network forecasts above average winter storm systems returning to B.C. in February and March.

“We’re still in a La Niña situation,” said the Weather Network’s Hamilton, referring to a weather pattern that tends to result in above-average precipitation and cold temperatures in B.C.

($1 = 1.2491 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Paul Simao)

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